This article contains spoilers for Silent Hill 2, including some of the game’s endings.
In my restless dreams, I see that stupid, selfish parking hog, James Sunderland. That’s not quite how Silent Hill 2 goes, but I can’t stop thinking about protagonist James’s terrible, terrible parking.
As with a lot of things, this disturbing revelation began with Twitter. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve played Konami and Team Silent’s famous survival horror, but I’d guess it was well into double figures. During all that time I never gave a second thought to the way James’ left his car, straddling a space clearly meant for a bigger vehicle.
But thanks to this Tweet, arguing that the recently announced remake has “fixed James's horrible parking in the beginning,” I absolutely can’t unsee it and it’s sent me down a mental rabbit hole every bit as murky as Silent Hill’s fog-filled streets.
Admittedly, bad parking is something that really pushes my buttons. As Alice Cooper sang, “it's just the little things that drive me wild,” and my instinct, upon seeing a car parked over the markings, is to park close enough that they’ll have to squeeze in through their passenger door.
Is that ridiculously petty? Yes. Does it leave me with a warm, fuzzy glow? Also yes. So when this revelation sank in, I began to view James in a different light. My hatred started off small but the more I thought about his lack of regard for others, the more it grew and grew.
Forget any pillow-related transgressions he may have committed, bad parking was the real offence. Maybe the real reason Pyramid Head was stalking James was because he wanted him to move his car. He just couldn’t balance his Traffic Warden cap on that pointy head of his.
With this new knowledge and a headful of resentment, I chose to replay Silent Hill 2, just to make sure I wasn’t getting unduly wound up. It didn’t help. I’d forgotten that James left his car door open so I had something else to dwell on as I left the overlook rest area and descended the forest path.
Normally, I’d be wondering if, despite having played the game to death, this was going to be the time that something leapt out of the forest at me. Instead, I was inwardly grumbling at James’s lack of consideration. Yes, James was supposedly in mourning – but I was still baffled by the thought process that would lead to this kind of parking calamity.
“Hang on…” you might be thinking.. “Isn’t Silent Hill completely abandoned?” You might think so but it’s canon that Silent Hill is very much still inhabited. Foggy Silent Hill and Otherworld Silent Hill are the stuff of nightmares but there’s also a regular, populated Silent Hill.
And, given that Silent Hill 2’s Maria ending shows James’s car sitting in a fog-free Silent Hill, there’s at least one scenario where it exists in the normal world. Maybe a family of four pulled up, craving a break, only to discover there was nowhere to put their mobile home. Forget Silent Hill 2’s Born From a Wish episode, how about an add-on where I can wander into town, find a garbage truck and park it right behind his car? Take that, you guilt-ridden, floppy-haired git.
At least, that’s how I used to view James’s selfishness and/or lack of parking skills. Either he was so inept he couldn't park in the regular spaces, or he chose to actively be an arse. I even imagined that the In Water Ending had James crashing through someone’s boat before touching down in Toluca Lake.
But then, something occurred to me. What if it wasn’t that I was overthinking the situation, I just wasn’t reading nearly enough into it? After all, Silent Hill 2 is awash with little touches. Some are designed to unsettle you, while others are clues as to what’s really going on with James.
Take the body you encounter in Wood Side/Blue Creek apartments. At first glance they took their own life, another lost or guilty soul summoned to Silent Hill. But the body, obscured as it is by gore, is James’s own. Then there’s the symbolism of the various monsters you encounter. They're summoned or at least moulded by James's subconscious, revealing more about James than he’s willing to admit. What if his space-hogging is just as telling?
The In Water ending is the generally accepted canonical ending, certainly going by Silent Hill 4. So, at some level he knew he wasn’t going to get much more use out of his car. And if it wasn’t there when he came back, he’d have found some other method of ending his life.
So James’s careless parking may literally be that – he doesn’t care, and it’s not just because he’s mourning the loss of his wife Mary. While he doesn’t admit his guilt until much, much later in the game, he subconsciously feels that he deserves to be judged. He’s not planning on coming back, not really. Actually, now I really think about it, assuming he’s a complete jackass is the less depressing option.
Whether I’m over or under analysing James Sunderland’s crimes against parking, it'll bother me at least until the Silent Hill 2 remake comes out. As for the remake, despite @Shanksspeare’s assertion, there’s still some diagonal overhang going on, which raises it own questions. Is it just coincidence? Or has Bloober decided to mirror, to a lesser degree, the original Silent Hill 2’s parking atrocity? Either way, I can already feel my eye twitching.